The Afro Nation Festival got off to a lively start in the United States, performing at the 40,000-capacity LoanDepot Park (formerly Marlins Park) over Memorial Day weekend in Miami. With Nose Length first day headline and child prodigy Performing on day two, Afro Nation Miami had a clear African essence, combining Afrobeats, amapiano and reggae.
The festival featured two different stages: the Audiomack Amapiano stage with eclectic South African sounds, and the MainStage with afrobeats and reggae. While Mavado, Shenseea and a host of other performances span the dancehall and reggae genres, afrobeat fans are spoiled with options like Asake, Black Sherif, Rema, Fireboy DML and the charismatic Uncle Waffles (which are female), among others. The festival area was filled with energy as African vendors sold mouth-watering delicacies and people let themselves go and dance.
Day one started with a live performance of Cuhdeejah, who is new on the Audiomack Amapiano stage. Backed by a troupe of dancers, the Sierra Leonean-American singer has revealed her latest collaboration with “Bad Mama Jama” none other than Snoop Dogg. Acknowledging that many in the crowd were discovering his music for the first time, Cuhdeejah told Variety after his performance: “I felt deeply blessed – having the power to fascinate and influence people with my words is an extraordinary gift.”
Later in the day, 21-year-old Ghanaian socialite singer Black Sherif takes the main stage with songs like her debut single “First Sermon”, its sequel “Second Sermon” and “Kwaku the Kwaku the Traveler.” After the set, the Black Sheriff was surprised, “Moments like this feel unreal because a few years ago only my family knew I could sing, and now I’m overseas and people are singing my lyrics to me. I am very proud to have chosen to be part of the generation that changed the course of culture.”
As the first day continued, Asake performed a set full of tempting versions of their songs and multiple songs. He also made fun of his new album “Work of Art” (released June 16) and featured Olamide in the track “Ampiano”. Back on the Audiomack Amapiano stage, South African DJ Uncle Waffles drew a large crowd with his Boiler Room-like set and saw him leave the DJ booth several times to perform intricate choreography with his army of dancers.
Burna Boy closed day one explosively by presenting a high-octane set filled with hits and songs such as “Ye”, “On the Low” and “Last Last”. A condensed version of the “Love, Damini” tour, the set featured a friendly show when Black brought Sherif back to MainStage for a performance of “Second Sermon” remixes. The synergy between the two artists was obvious and evoked a “big brother/little brother” moment.
On day two, Shenseea kept her energy high with powerful sets from Rema, Fireboy DML, and Major League DJz. Currently achieving worldwide success with her single “Calm Down” (with Selena Gomez, currently #4 on the Billboard Hot 100), Rema closed the set with the track as her fans sang loudly on every line.
Finally, Wizkid closed the festival with an exuberant set and a dazzling stage production. Emerging from a digital LED structure resembling a tall sandstone condo, Wizkid unleashed hits such as “Ojuelegba”, “Essence” and “Mood” that wowed the crowd, and revealed his friend and Afro Nation artist Bnxn.
Later this year, Afro Nation will move to its next destination, Detroit, August 19-20, before embarking on a triumphant return to Ghana in December.